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From: Anderson, Steve (MNPD)

Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2017 11:05 AM


To: xxxxxxxxxx (Council Member)
Cc: Council Members
Subject: Councilman Mendes

Councilman Mendes,

Regarding RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-459, requesting response from the MNPD


regarding findings in a recent report regarding MNPD traffic stop statistics in Nashville, I
provide the following information, comment and context.

Previous correspondence copied to you and the presentation by Commander Terrence


Graves at the Council hearing on this matter has made it clear that we take exception to
the conclusions drawn in this report. Most egregious is the accusation of racial
profiling. I categorically deny racial profiling is an element of any MNPD policing
strategies and would undertake appropriate action to remove any officer that is
determined to have engaged in such conduct.

Although the term racial profiling used more than twenty (20) times throughout the
report, there is no documented account of any such incident or incidents. It seems
apparent that none of these persons described in the report have contacted the Office
of Professional Responsibility about their allegations so that a thorough investigation
can be conducted. If true, I would encourage you to facilitate that; for if racial profiling is
occurring, I assure you that we want to investigate it.

The assumptions made in the report rely solely on the disparity in the African American
census data compared to the vehicle stop data. As to this disparity, a competent and
responsible researcher and statistician can reveal, simply by the numbers, that there is
in fact a disparity. Those same people will tell you that, alone, the numbers cannot tell
you the reasons, good or bad, that the disparity exists. Those reasons can be revealed,
or at least hypothesized, only with additional, exhaustive research and analysis. That
was not done in this situation.

Conveniently, the report fails to offer any accepted definition of racial profiling. As in
any discussion, it is most helpful to know the definition of a term before making a
determination as to whether it exists.

A commonly accepted definition of racial profiling, or bias based policing, the


selection of individuals for enforcement intervention based solely on a common
trait of a group, such as race, ethnic origin, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual
orientation, or age.
Or, the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having
committed an offense.

The American Civil Liberties Union has defined racial profiling as the
discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for
suspicion of crime based on the individuals race, ethnicity, religion or national
origin.

The National Institute of Justice has stated that racial profiling by law
enforcement is commonly defined as a practice that targets people for suspicion
of crime based on their race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

Again, this report contained no documented account of any such incident or


incidents. The assumption relies solely on the disparity in the African American census
data compared to the vehicle stop data. Any such disparity does not constitute racial
profiling and responsible researchers would also advise that disparity alone is not
evidence of bias.

The fallacy of the entire report is the utilization of census data to support the allegations
of racial profiling.

It has been long settled in the academic world that census data is not an appropriate or
meaningful benchmark to support or refute any allegation of racial profiling. To repeat--
Census data is not an appropriate benchmark. While census data has its purpose, it
is only a snapshot, as best as can be determined, of where people live. Census data
does not take into consideration where people drive their vehicles. As you know,
Nashville is a vibrant community, surrounded by not only counties who provide
Nashville with a workforce, but also is home to over 20 colleges, universities,
technological schools and institutes of higher learning-of these, we are proud to be
home to at least 4 colleges that would be considered historically black colleges and
universities. The US Census Bureau struggles to answer the question where these
college students are counted-with somewhere between 40-80,000 college students in
Nashville-what effect does that have on Census accuracy; while clearly having an effect
on who drives in Nashville. Similarly, an often unknown element of the census is prison
populations. Clearly, with Nashville home to several large state prison facilities and
private prison facilities, the population and demographics of the prison population
clearly have an effect on Census data yet demonstrate an inherent flaw in using Census
data to analyze who drives in the same city.

Although the report attempts to refine its analysis by utilizing census block and census
tract comparisons, as opposed to overall city or county census comparisons, the same
fallacy exists. People do not drive round and round limiting their driving only to their
census block or census tract. In fact most people have no idea where their census
block or tract ends or begins. People travel broadly across the city and the county, to
school, run errands, to work, to shop, to visit family and friends. With the convergence
of three US interstates, even more, possibly hundreds of thousands-if not more, pass
through Nashville in route to Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Knoxville and even
further. Often they exit to get gas, sight see, shop and then move on. Clearly these
people make up the driving population but are never considered in Census data.

Any attempt to understand why the existing and established research by credentialed
statisticians and scholars was ignored would only be speculation as this information is
readily available via the internet. For example, see:

Grogger, J., & Ridgeway, G. (2006). Testing for racial profiling in traffic stops
from behind a veil of darkness. Journal of the American Statistical Association,
101(475), 878-887. The key problem in testing for racial profiling in traffic stops
is estimating the risk set, or benchmark, against which to compare the race
distribution of stopped drivers. To date, the two most common approaches have
been to use residential population data or to conduct traffic surveys in which
observers tally the race distribution of drivers at a certain location. It is widely
recognized that residential population data provide poor estimates of the
population at risk of a traffic stop; at the same time, traffic surveys have
limitations and are more costly to carry out than the alternative that we propose
herein. [Emphasis added.]

Note: Grogger and Ridgeway were awarded the Outstanding Statistical


Application Award by the American Statistical Association for their work in
formulating an alternative to the use of statistical data.

Johnson, Richard R. Ph.d. Biased-Based Policing Reports Are Failing the Police
and the Community, Why Agencies Need to Stop Using Census Data. Many
have used Census data as their benchmark for police activity because of its ease
of access. The problem, however, is that the demographic characteristics of
the people living at any one location have nothing to do with the driving
population there, nor who is breaking the law in any specific area. We use
or vehicle to travel to places away from our homes, as people generally do not
work, shop, or recreate in their homes. [Emphasis in original.]

Ridgeway, Greg and John MacDonald. Methods for Assessing Racially Biased
Policing. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP1427.html. The primary reason for using
US Census data to form the benchmark is that it is inexpensive, quick, and
readily available. A number of studies attempting to assess racial bias in police
behavior use population data from the census, some rely on estimates at local
area levels like neighborhood census tracts (see Parker and Stults in this
volume). However, for the reasons previously listed, benchmarking with census
data does not help us isolate the effect of racial bias from differential exposure
and differential offending. Even refinements to the residential census, such as
focusing on subpopulations likeliest to be involved in crime (e.g., men or driving
age young adults) are not likely to eliminate differences in the exposure of
officers to criminal suspects or provide a good approximation of the population at
risk for official police action. Fridell summarized the problem with using the
census as a benchmark with regard to offender exposure by noting that, this
method does not address the alternative hypothesis that racial/ethnic groups are
not equivalent in the nature and extent of their . . . law-violating behavior. Census
estimates provide only the racial distribution of residents and not how these
numbers vary by time of day, business attractors such as shopping centers, daily
traffic patterns involving commuters, etc.

Ridgeway, Greg and John MacDonald. Methods for Assessing Racially Biased
Policing. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP1427.html. There is a compulsion in media
reports on racial disparities in police stops to compare the racial distribution of
the stops to the racial distribution for the communitys population as estimated by
the US Census. For example, in 2006 in New York City, 53% of stops police
made of pedestrians involved black pedestrians while according to the US
Census they comprise only 24% of the citys residential population. When the two
racial distributions do not align, and they seem to do so rarely, such statistics
promote the conclusion that there is evidence of racial bias in police decision
making. Racial bias could be a factor in generating such disparities, but a basic
introductory research methods course in the social sciences would argue that
other explanations may be contributing factors. For example, differences by race
in the exposure to the police and/or the rates of committing offenses may also
contribute to racial disparities in police stop decisions. It is well documented, for
example, that due to historical differences in racial segregation, housing tenure,
poverty, and other sociopolitical factors minorities in the US are more likely to live
in neighborhoods with higher rates of crime and disorder.

Ridgeway, Greg and John MacDonald. Methods for Assessing Racially Biased
Policing. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP1427.html. Police deployment in many
cities also corresponds to differences in the demand for police services.
Neighborhoods with higher volumes of calls to the police service typically have a
higher presence of police. Additionally, research indicates that racial minorities,
and in particular blacks, are disproportionately involved in serious personal
offenses as both victims and offenders.

Ridgeway, Greg and John MacDonald. Methods for Assessing Racially Biased
Policing. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP1427.html. The crux of the external
benchmarking analysis is to develop a benchmark that estimates the racial
distribution of the individuals who would be stopped if the police were racially
unbiased and then comparing that benchmark to the observed racial distribution
of stopped citizens. The external benchmark can be thought of as the population
at risk for official police contact. As we will see, estimating the appropriate
population at risk is complicated. Crude approximations of the population at risk
for police contact are poor substitutes and can hide evidence of racial bias or
lead to exaggerated estimates of racial bias. The racial composition of the stops
made by the police involves some combination of police exposure to
offending/suspicious activity, the racial distribution of the population involved in
those activities, and the potential for racial bias. To provide some context, we use
some hypothetical numbers and consider an unbiased officer on a foot post who
makes stops only when a pedestrian matches a known suspect description. This
officer works in a precinct with 40 blacks matching suspect descriptions and 40
whites matching suspect descriptions. If we could somehow measure such
numbers we would be inclined to propose a suspect-description benchmark of
50% black and 50% white. However, if the routine daily activities of whites and
blacks differ then the officer will encounter different proportions of suspects by
race. Say, for example, that the majority of the 40 white suspects stay inside
most of the day, travel only by car, or avoid the specific areas with high police
presence, then this officer will stop only a small number of white suspects,
deviating substantially from the 50 percent benchmark. Even the less extreme
situation, in which half of the white suspects are exposed to the officer, results in
the officer stopping blacks in 67 percent of all of their stops decisions. The
suspect benchmark in this context is only valid if the police are equally exposed
to suspects from the various racial groups. Therefore, even with unbiased
officers, we cannot necessarily expect what seems like a reasonable external
benchmark to match the racial distribution of stops. This example effectively
demonstrates that any of the external benchmarks described in this section must
be viewed with caution.

Fridell, Lorie A. By The Numbers, A Guide for Analyzing Race Data From
Vehicle Stops, A report prepared for the Police Executive Research Forum,
funded by the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services. In census benchmarking agencies compare the demographic profile
of the drivers stopped by police to the demographic profile of the residents of the
jurisdiction as determined by the U.S. Census. For a variety of reasons, such a
comparison is of no scientific value for purposes of trying to measure racial bias
in policing and, in fact has in misleading and often resulted unsupported
findings. [Emphasis added.]

Dr. Lorie Fridell is a national expert on biased policing, the author of numerous
writings on this subject and developed the Fair and Impartial Policing model for
law enforcement instruction.

It should also be noted that the use of census data does not in any way take into
account the deployment of resources by the MNPD. While the report does note, using
census data comparisons, an approximate 10 percent disparity, the report does not in
any way take into account other disparities that guide the deployment of these
resources. For example, and using the same census comparisons:

African American gunshot victimsa 54 percent disparity.


African American homicide victimsa 48 percent disparity.

African American aggravated assault victimsa 29 percent disparity.

African American carjacking victimsa 23 percent disparity.

Ignoring these real disparities of victimization in our African American communities by


seeking to divide or drive a wedge into police community relations by attempting to draw
attention to a false narrative of racial profiling, without clear evidence, is morally
disingenuous. It ignores the practical realities of modern community based policing
strategies and tactics-particularly the deployment of police resources, to these often
disadvantaged neighborhoods, based upon victimization and calls for service from
those actually living in these neighborhoods.

As Commander Graves stated in his presentation to the Council, these are the facts and
figures used by each precinct commander to deploy resources to particular areas of
Nashville where persons are most likely to be the victims of violent criminal activity and
to respond to the requests for increased police presence by those living in these
communities which are punctuated with violence daily. In my time as Chief, in hundreds
of community meetings, I can never recall the residents of a neighborhood requesting
LESS police presence. I am certain that the eight precinct commanders, who meet
regularly with residents and neighborhood watch groups, would share the same
experience.

Obviously, as the report seemingly chooses to disregard, the greater concentration of


MNPD resources in a particular area will necessarily result in more vehicle stops than in
areas wherein MNPD resources are deployed in a more limited manner. Thus, if more
police resources are dedicated to areas with a disparity in the demographics of resident
victims, logic dictates that there will be increased police contacts with those in that
demographic. This perceived disparity is not bias. It is community based policing
designed to reduce victimization and concentrate resources to the area of greatest
need.

Previously, we supplied density maps to the Council to illustrate where the


concentration of victims is the greatest and where our resources are deployed. These
maps are attached, again, for your review to aid you in understanding this concept.
Also, as previously supplied, attached is a chart showing the disparity African
Americans experience as victims of violent crimes. This chart, in graphic detail,
describes the disparity we all should be discussing-how to reduce the victimization of
our African American communities.

We will continue to engage in deliberate, thoughtful, well-planned, and lawful policing


practices. On occasion, we may fall short, but more often than not, the men and women
of the MNPD-in responding to over 220,000 calls for service and over 640,000
additional contacts do get it right.
It remains my commitment, as Chief of Police, that the MNPD will continue to allow
precinct commanders the discretion to assign police resources to those areas afflicted
by violence and to provide police services to areas where crime and violence are the
highest, where people are at greater risk of becoming a victim, and closest to the
location of where calls for police services are located. They will continue to attend
community meetings, host neighborhood events, sponsor activities to engage at risk
youth and participate in other activities to enhance our ability to better serve and
connect with the community.

I understand and respect your personal urgency to pass this resolution. It does appear,
however, that over these months all has been said that can be said. Certainly, while I
see no need for passage of the resolution, if passed we will create the requested
response, however, what has been stated above and in other correspondence and
presentations, would constitute the response.